While some future food leaders like Pat Brown don’t believe the economics of cultured meat make sense, longtime investor and entrepreneur Jim Mellon thinks exactly the opposite.
In fact, Mellon thinks that in the future, cultured meat will be more affordable than both factory farmed and the plant-based alternatives.
“The price of plant-based foods has been coming down – Impossible has just lowered its price by 20% in the US – but there is a limit to that,” said Mellon, whom I recently interviewed for The Food Tech Show podcast. “I think you’ll get parity [with traditionally produced meat], possibly in 18 months time, with some of the plant based foods. But I don’t think it’s going to go a lot below that.”
In contrast, Mellon believes meat made via cellular agriculture will eventually be more affordable than that of farmed meat prices.
“At scale, and we’ve got a pretty good scientific advisory board, we think that it will be 2.5 milliliters [of stem cell material] from a cow will produce the equivalent of seven or eight cows worth of meat in 40 days,” said Mellon. “So if you can do this in 40 days, we think the input costs will be 2.5 to one. And that compares to as you all know, a cow twenty five to one, a chicken nine to one.”
In short, Mellon believes the raising of animals through traditional farming is hugely inefficient. By moving meat production to cellular agriculture – or what will essentially meat brewed in a bioreactor – Mellon believes we’ll see what is effectively a 10x increase in efficiency.
So when does he think we’ll see pricing drop to parity with traditionally farmed meat? Sooner than most think.
“In the US, 60% of your meat is bought in the form of ground meat, sausages, patties, etc. I think we’ll be at price parity within five years,” said Mellon. “Five years is not a long time in the history of mankind. Within five years, the whole of the intensive farming industry will face a very dramatic threat to its existence.”
Mellon’s understanding of the cultured meat space was shaped in part by his conversations with many of the early leaders in the market, which he talked to for his new book, Moo’s Law: An Investor’s Guide to the New Agrarian Revolution. I suggest you check it out, but before you do that you can listen to my full conversation with Mellon for the Food Tech Show via Apple Podcasts, Spotify or by clicking play below.